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simmo90

Re-bluing shotgun barrels using cold blue

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I extensively researched about re-bluing firearms and found most of the articles and accounts on forums unhelpful. Through trial and error I re-blued the barrels of a double-barrelled shotgun and wanted to post my method on the Internet so that if anybody in the same position wants to give it a go hopefully this will make their project easier.

 

The Gun

 

I bought a Spanish 12 gauge traditional game gun around about a year ago off a dealer when buying a spring air rifle. The gun was tattered all over i.e. barrels, stock and action but was beautiful to handle and the bores were immaculate. It only cost £125, which I felt was too good an offer to refuse.

 

The gun itself is a Gunmark Kestrel side by side with 28” barrels, double triggers and is a non-ejector model. I have actually refurbished the whole of the gun but, stupidly, only took photos of before and after the gun barrels had been re-blued.

 

Re-bluing warning

 

If you are going to re-blue the entire barrel/barrels of a gun do not use Birchwood Casey perma blue. The product is **** for this application and the method provided is laborious and doesn’t work; I found out the hard way and wasted a lot of time. It is only good for small-scale work. If you follow this method you shouldn’t go far wrong and this is coming from a 19 year old with no previous restoration knowledge who just fancied a nice little project.

 

Equipment needed for re-blue

 

Barrel preparation

 

· Wet and dry sandpaper – I used 120, 240, 320, 600, 1200 and 1500 grit.

· Bowl or container to hold water for wet sanding.

· Heat gun (preferably) or hair dryer.

· Long nosed pliers.

· Cleaner/degreaser (Birchwood Casey).

· Rust and blue remover (Birchwood Casey).

· 00 or 000 Steel wool.

· Paint preparation wipes.

· Sponge.

· Cotton pads or balls.

· Latex gloves.

· Protective glasses.

· Cloths/towels.

· WD40 or similar lubricant.

· Gun oil.

 

Re-bluing the barrels

 

· Phillips professional cold blue: This can be purchased off ebay.co.uk for £11 per bottle (250ml) including postage. Two bottles are required to immerse the barrels and re-blue.

· Roll of cling film.

· Tape (duct, cello or electrical).

· Thick metal rod that can be bent to shape.

· 800mm (length) of plastic guttering (800mm suitable for 28” barrels, if barrels are longer get a longer piece of guttering).

· Medium sized unused paintbrush.

· Gun Oil (preferably) or WD40.

· Cloth, rag etc.

 

Step-by-step guide to re-blue

 

Preparation of the barrels

 

This is the most important part of the entire bluing process. Put as much time as you can into the preparation of your barrels as the results when the re-blue is complete will be as good as the steel allows.

It will seem that you just sand for hours on end but truthfully the better the preparation the better the end result.

 

 

1. Separate the barrels of the gun from the forend and action/stock. I decided to take the ejectors/extractors out as well so that I could blue them some other time.

 

2. Lay a towel/cloth on your work surface so the barrels do not slide around. I did this as my work surface was the kitchen worktop but it is not a necessity.

 

3. Put on some latex gloves and protective glasses. Apply a good amount of the cleaner/degreaser to a sponge and rub over the barrels, making sure that every area of the barrel is cleaned thoroughly. Once cleaned rinse off the cleaner with water and dry with a cloth.

 

4. Once the barrels are dried, apply the blue and rust remover with a cotton pad. Apply it generously and do this in sections i.e. top of the barrels first then sides and then underneath. Wait 2 minutes for the remover to work. This stuff really smells when it kicks in (an acidic smell) so I did this outside. Again not a necessity but I would advise it. Once 2 minutes has passed use steel wool to rub or buff the bluing off the barrels. You should be left with bare metal once this is done.

 

5. Rinse the barrels with water to get rid of any steel wool and rust/blue remover. Dry once rinsed.

 

6. Apply more cleaner/degreaser to make sure the blue/rust remover is neutralised and removed. Rinse the barrels with water and dry once all the cleaner is washed off.

 

7. Remove the bead/sight from the barrels with some long nosed pliers; the bead will usually be threaded in as mine was. Store the bead somewhere safe and don’t lose it.

 

 

8. Now the hard work begins. Grab a bowl or container and fill it with water. Start sanding with 120 grit paper making sure to keep the paper wet to help the sanding process. As my barrels were pitted on the outside and in poor condition I started with coarse 120 grit paper, trying my best to get rid of the pits. I managed to sand a lot of them down till nearly un-noticeable but some of them were just too deep and couldn’t be gotten rid of.

If your barrels are in similar shape to mine it will take several hours to get the surfaces in decent condition. If your barrels aren’t in as bad of condition as mine were, you can jump a few grits and start off at about 240 or 320.

 

9. Work your way through the grits of sand paper, making sure you make nice, long strokes with the sandpaper and don’t miss any part of the barrels with each grit. You want a nice uniform finish so take your time over this stage. The grits I used were 120, 240, 320, 600, 1200 and finally 1500 until a shiny, mirror finish was achieved.

Pay special attention to awkward parts such as where the rib joins the barrels. For this I used an angled piece of scrap Perspex and wrapped the paper around it so I could get into the gaps and work. You will be able to see on the photos that I didn’t quite get down to where the rib joins the barrels and the original joining material used is visible (a gold-coloured line).

 

10. If at any time you have had enough for the day, just take some WD40 or equivalent, spray all over the barrels and leave in a safe and dry place i.e. a gun slip. Also, it is a good idea to mop some gun oil down the barrels just in case any water has been down them.

 

11. Once the barrels have been sanded to a shiny finish with the 1500 grit paper put some latex gloves on as to protect the steel from skin oil. Try to touch the main portion of the barrels as little as possible even with the gloves on to reduce the risk of marks when re-bluing.

 

12. Dry the barrels with the heat gun or hair dryer just so all the moisture in the metal is removed.

 

13. Wipe the barrels down thoroughly with a paint preparation wipe making sure all the awkward spots are seen to and that all of the exposed metal is cleaned down. This will remove any of the last traces of grease, dirt or oil from the metal.

 

Re-bluing the barrels

 

1. Cut the guttering in half length-ways so that you are left with a long U-shaped trough for the barrels and bluing to go in.

 

2. Line the whole inside of the trough with cling film making sure there are no holes anywhere and that the ends of the trough are sealed. Use tape to secure and hold the cling film to the trough.

 

3. Use the metal rod to bend and shape two hooks or means of holding the barrels by both the breech and muzzle ends. I just bent the rod into L shapes then bent the tops of the rod at 90° so that I could hold them and easily support the barrels at both ends.

 

4. Pour both bottles of Phillips cold blue into the trough paying careful attention that there are no holes, splits or leaks in the cling film.

 

5. Roll up balls of cling film and insert them in the breech and muzzle end of the barrels so that the bluing isn’t wasted down them and is only used for the outside of the barrels.

 

6. Put the hooks into both ends of the barrels so that you are able to lift them.

 

7. Immerse the barrels in the cold blue by using the hooks. It specifies on the bottle that 3 minutes is needed to attain the bluing. I had the barrels in the bluing for 3 minutes minimum but didn’t keep them in for longer than 5.

 

8. Every 30 seconds or so gently brush the bluing liquid back and forth, not touching the barrels with the brush, just to circulate the solution.

 

9. Check the barrels by lifting them out of the bluing liquid to see if they are to your desired colour. If they aren’t, repeat the previous stages until the colour you want is attained.

 

10. When happy with the colour, remove the barrels from the bluing liquid and rinse/hose down with water thoroughly to neutralise the chemical reaction on the metal.

 

11. Suspend the barrels and dry the water off with a heat gun. Make sure all moisture is removed.

 

12. Once completely dry, coat the barrels in a generous amount of gun oil (or WD40 if you haven’t got gun oil) with a cloth and leave to cure in a dry place for 24 hours. I left mine on my bedroom windowsill. Note that there will be a lot of black coming off the barrels onto the cloth, no need to worry as you will still be fetching it off months later when oiling down.

 

13. Replace the gun’s bead/sight. The thread on mine was very small and fine. It was badly worn and wouldn’t catch once I tried to put it back in so I had to superglue it.

 

14. Every few days after the re-blue just top up the oil on the barrels to keep it well-lubricated and looking good. Once used as an assembled gun just oil the barrels after use as you would normally do as part of routine maintenance.

 

 

Good luck to anybody who fancies giving it a go. You will find your own methods of how to do things but hopefully my method will prove to be a good guideline for you.

 

Here are the before and after photos of my barrels. The natural light on the after reblue photos is a bit lighter than the other photos, I will try to get better ones but these are still good enough to see the results. The bluing is just a little see through if being critical but considering the state of them before the re-blue I am more than happy with the outcome and am proud of what I achieved.

 

 

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post-25229-0-20036500-1295660026.jpg post-25229-0-69251400-1295660040.jpg

Edited by simmo90

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I extensively researched about re-bluing firearms and found most of the articles and accounts on forums unhelpful. Through trial and error I re-blued the barrels of a double-barrelled shotgun and wanted to post my method on the Internet so that if anybody in the same position wants to give it a go hopefully this will make their project easier.

 

Nice job! :good:

Edited by MartB

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Nice job and very good instructions. Is there any "depth" to the bluing or does it seem like a "light" covering.

 

It is a little light but it is a lot better than before as you can see, well worth doing though. You learn a lot and after all the hard work you will be pleased. I wish i had took pictures of before and after redoing my stock, that was much, much better.

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Perhaps you can put a picture on if it's all finished. I got hold of an Armas Garbi Sidelock which needed barrels and stock doing. The woodwork is almost there but not done the barrels yet. The stock has got some beautifully figuring to it and as it's a copy of a best English gun, I'm hoping it will look good when it's finished.

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I could do but you can't appreciate it properly unless you have pictures of before and after because the gun was really tattered and now it looks nice. I kick myself for not taking photos before the project had begun but ah well. Good luck with yours

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You say you wouldn't leave it in any longer than 5 mins, what would happen if you left it in a few mins longer? Would the colour darken further? And/or go deeper? I fancy a go on my side-by-side. Does the blueing last well or like some of the others, come off?

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Well done,an extensive write up and finished barrells look good :good:

I have used caseys kit numerous times and am more than happy with the results (see,my project hushpower),the bluing does produce a black finish that stays on if instructions are followed and the tru oil in the kit is amazing.

With the caseys product,after bluing you buff the bluing then apply barricade,then oil over the next few days to ensure it is permanent,failure to do either results in it coming off or rusting,i was surprised that you didnt buff the barrells on your gun :hmm:

You didnt cheat on the prep of the barrells, i was pleased to see someone actually put the effort in to do it properly and it shows in the finish :yes:

You should be proud,any chance of some pics of the stock and how you did it,as i would be very interested from doing 4 myself,i did 1st with varnish (wrong),2nd and 3rd with laquer which is very good and the one i am working on now is with tru oil,which is totaly brilliant unbeleivable finish :yes:

 

Very good post :good:

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Well done,an extensive write up and finished barrells look good :good:

I have used caseys kit numerous times and am more than happy with the results (see,my project hushpower),the bluing does produce a black finish that stays on if instructions are followed and the tru oil in the kit is amazing.

With the caseys product,after bluing you buff the bluing then apply barricade,then oil over the next few days to ensure it is permanent,failure to do either results in it coming off or rusting,i was surprised that you didnt buff the barrells on your gun :hmm:

You didnt cheat on the prep of the barrells, i was pleased to see someone actually put the effort in to do it properly and it shows in the finish :yes:

You should be proud,any chance of some pics of the stock and how you did it,as i would be very interested from doing 4 myself,i did 1st with varnish (wrong),2nd and 3rd with laquer which is very good and the one i am working on now is with tru oil,which is totaly brilliant unbeleivable finish :yes:

 

Very good post :good:

 

Thanks for the compliments. I would post pics of my refurbed gunstock but you would not be able to see the transformation from the ****heap it was so there wouldn't be much to appreciate. I might post my step-by-step method of how to refurb a gunstock though.

Edited by simmo90

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You say you wouldn't leave it in any longer than 5 mins, what would happen if you left it in a few mins longer? Would the colour darken further? And/or go deeper? I fancy a go on my side-by-side. Does the blueing last well or like some of the others, come off?

 

Well I did what the manufacturer of the bluing said and left it in for 3 minutes. I then left it in for 2 further minutes but there wasn't much change in colour. You could try leaving it longer but I was pleased with what I had and decided to just take it out and oil it up to cure.

 

Definitely have a go on yours though, it is a really good learning curve and you will get good results if you put the time in. I wouldn't do it with a prized gun but if you have a gun you dont use as often or a rough/field gun etc. it is perfect.

 

And yes the bluing does last, just do what you normally would and oil it after everytime it is handled/used and it wil look good. As it is thinner than factory blue it will be less forgiving in terms of time to rust etc. so just make sure to keep it oiled and it will be sound.

 

Thanks for the post and good luck if you have a go.

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Just finished restoring my hushpower.

post-21389-0-69138900-1298925983.jpg

post-21389-0-18826600-1298926152.jpg

post-21389-0-03126700-1298926260.jpg

 

I use tru oil to refinish my guns, its a brilliant product.

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Well, I'm really glad i came accross this feed!

I have just purchased an Arturo Mino "ideal" , Italian made side by side, it is in average/poor condition and want to start bringing it back to its true magnificant form.

I've printed off Simmo's blueing instructions which are really detailed and thorough, so thanks Simmo.

I am looking for some expert advise on restoring the stock and being its my first time I wondered if you had any step by step instructionsd or valuable tips !

 

cheers

 

Pablotaffy.

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Great topic and super write up. Over the years I've done several shotguns, rifles and pistols. Shotguns are the most rewarding. Some old Spanish guns made many years ago had great timber that you just wouldn't get now. It's a pleasure to renew the timber, put a little shine on the action,but, the rebluing process has always been a problem. With an old gun I eventually settled for the original finish just well oiled. An old gun needs to be an old gun. I've worked on the Mosin Nagant and a 1916 SMLE and sympathy is the key word. It was possible to buy the chemicals involved but security now makes it impossible. Great write up, and a great job on the barrels.

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A really good considered write up. You researched the subject,got methodically set up and did good preparation and completion of the job to a finish. Well done.

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Hi

I tried the various blueing gels/creams and all seemed rubbish!! I then tried Ballistol Klever blue and it did a superb job- Very dark and shiny blued surface (The shine came after carding with the finest wire wool soaked in oil)..

YVesgek.jpg

The actions were put away for three months after which time I was going to rebuild them but when I came back to them they had faded to an awful grey colour- No one had so much as touched them :no:

The pic was taken right after I did the job on them!

By the way, I've a set of damascus barrels to plum brown (Have a bottle of Phillips Plum brown, Can't imagine them coming out too well!!


John :)

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John I had this with Ballistol when I did a barrel on an old Kestrel SxS. It had a browny tinge all over the part which is clearly the selenium dioxide continuing to react and cause rust type reaction.

 

I stripped it and did at again and like you it came up perfect after about 3 coats of Klever. I then smothered it in BreakFree CLP and kept doing so for about three days after. So far after about 6 months the finish is good and hasnt shown any of the grayness you mention so I think its down to a couple of things.

 

1. I think the change is color is due to the product still being active and therefore not having been neutralised. I gave the freshly blued parts a good wipe down with hot water between coats and then a really good wash off with nearly boiling water after the final coat.

 

2. I didnt card inbetween coats, I remember reading something on a US website that said using wire wool alters the reaction and bonding capability of the bluing, I am not a chemist so dont know if this is BS but I avoided it anyway

 

3. Oil. Oil and More Oil I kept the finished piece literally soaked in CLP for several days. I only used CLP as I have a lot of it I reckon any decent oil would do, probably the Ballistol oil stuff might be worth trying.

 

At the end of the day the Ballistol finish was good, but with use it DOES rub off so I would never use cold blue on anything of value. Its been fine on small parts I have done on my Auto-5's like screws or the odd trigger guard and I did the barrels on my old Kestrel shotgun because it was bought as a project gun anyway...

 

And its far far better than any other product I have tried including all of the Birchwood Casey ones, Philips and Bisley.

Edited by Wingman

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John I had this with Ballistol when I did a barrel on an old Kestrel SxS. It had a browny tinge all over the part which is clearly the selenium dioxide continuing to react and cause rust type reaction.

 

I stripped it and did at again and like you it came up perfect after about 3 coats of Klever. I then smothered it in BreakFree CLP and kept doing so for about three days after. So far after about 6 months the finish is good and hasnt shown any of the grayness you mention so I think its down to a couple of things.

 

1. I think the change is color is due to the product still being active and therefore not having been neutralised. I gave the freshly blued parts a good wipe down with hot water between coats and then a really good wash off with nearly boiling water after the final coat.

 

2. I didnt card inbetween coats, I remember reading something on a US website that said using wire wool alters the reaction and bonding capability of the bluing, I am not a chemist so dont know if this is BS but I avoided it anyway

 

3. Oil. Oil and More Oil I kept the finished piece literally soaked in CLP for several days. I only used CLP as I have a lot of it I reckon any decent oil would do, probably the Ballistol oil stuff might be worth trying.

 

At the end of the day the Ballistol finish was good, but with use it DOES rub off so I would never use cold blue on anything of value. Its been fine on small parts I have done on my Auto-5's like screws or the odd trigger guard and I did the barrels on my old Kestrel shotgun because it was bought as a project gun anyway...

 

And its far far better than any other product I have tried including all of the Birchwood Casey ones, Philips and Bisley.

Thanks for your thoughts Wingman, I've finished work now for Chrimbo so may get the urge to have another go at it!! :good:

 

 

Cheers, John :)

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